Orphan Black isn't kidding around. The first episode of the new season raises the stakes for our Clone Club members while giving us a better look at the dangerous forces that are battling over them—plus unveils a major surprise. Spoilers ahead.
First off, I want to say how hard it was to write a spoiler-free review of the premiere earlier this week with all the madness going on this episode. Really, nobody has wanted to talk to me for two days for fear that I will spoil something, and I can't say I blame them. OH MY GOD, HELENA.
Ahem. We'll get to her later.
This episode needed to do two things: 1) Assure us that Orphan Black is still Orphan Black with all of the characters we love and 2) Push us into the next level of the story about the conflict between the clones and the Dyad (and now the Prolethians as well). And the episode does just that, with a good deal of action and humor. It's so nice to have Orphan Black back.
We start with Sarah, who is hiding out in a diner and trying to get a hold of her various contacts on Beth's pink phone, but all of the clones' numbers have been disconnected, another sign that the Dyad has its fingers even in the clones' secrets. That's when a pair of guys swagger into the diner, and we immediately know they're religious extremists, less because of their creepy talk about eggs that have been "interfered with" than because television (mainly Big Love) has taught us that this is how Christian-flavored religious extremists dress:
Sarah is an egg in this scenario, and when she speaks up, one of them chirps, "She's got the lilt!" I can only imagine that they have a crazy wall somewhere cataloging the features of the different clones. Then the guns come out; the line cook comes to Sarah's defense with a shotgun and is killed for his trouble. Sarah springs into action and does what she does best: runs. She manages to escape into the bathroom and kick her way outside through the flimsy wall. The implication is clear: it's not just that Siobhan and Kira are missing; Sarah is still very much in danger.
She finds Felix, who has taken the night off from the Clone Club to do a little clubbing of his own—in assless chaps no less. This is actually a pretty key scene, and it makes me worry a great deal for Sarah and Felix's relationship. Felix is incredibly high and Sarah takes advantage of that, stealing his phone so that she can call Paul. Sarah's inner con woman is out, and no one is safe from her deceit. Granted, this is a pretty small betrayal, but Felix and Sarah's relationship hasn't always been solid; their orphan sibling bond runs deep, but he was deeply hurt by her disappearing act. I suspect that, as Sarah chases down Kira, she might end up pushing Felix away. (My mistake: Sarah bumped Felix around to quietly steal another fellow's phone; she's using him but stealing his stuff.) But when Sarah tells Felix she needs a gun, he obliges, and that's how a very doped-up Felix ends up in Alison's craft room at four in the morning.
How much did we miss these two? Alison is "taking a break" from her chemical helpers, which can't last long. She's also smart enough not to hand Sarah one of her own registered weapons, instead turning to Ramon, her prescription drug dealer and "gun enthusiast"—just another organ in the dark underbelly of Alison's desperate suburbia. Donnie interrupts Felix and Alison's late-night powwow, in his briefs no less. Felix hides while Alison chases him off, and I'm reminded that Leekie knows far more about Alison's personal life than Donnie at this point. Donnie, you're not just a crap husband; you're also a terrible monitor.
Meanwhile, Cosima is dealing with her own monitor. She's still head over heels for Delphine, but she resents that her paramour still works for Dyad, even if Delphine claims that it's on Cosima's behalf. Delphine hasn't interacted with the other clones yet (well, up until that kiss with Sarah), and it will be interesting to see if her fight for Cosima's health will work for or against the Clone Club.
I was a little bit worried that I wasn't going to end up liking Rachel. At the end of last season, Rachel seemed to be your generic evilish executive, but I'm digging that she's a highly accomplished evilish executive. She really is the ProClone and she has clearly cultivated that identity through her skills, her polish, her worldliness, even her wardrobe. She also seems to treat Paul as a sort of pet trophy; she knows that he still feels protective of Sarah, but it amuses her to keep him around and make him do her bidding.
Then there's Art and Angie, who have just figured out how strange their investigation is, even if they haven't quite landed on "clones." And things don't seem any less weird when Art witnesses Alison's play rehearsals. (She's won the lead in the wake of Aynsley's death. Everything is coming up Alison, right?)
Art and Angie briefly detain Sarah, who was on her way to grab that unregistered gun from Alison. Angie is still pissed at Sarah for masquerading as Beth, but Art decides to good cop her, releasing Sarah in order to solidify her trust in him. It's a move that pays off later in the episode.
It's darling that Alison has Ramon deliver the gun to Felix's loft in a floral arrangement, but it's too perfect when Alison sees the display over video chat and comments on how nice the flowers look. I almost wanted to smack Sarah with all of her gun talk, though. She may have shot Helena through the heart, but guns are not Sarah's strong suit. Scheming is her strong suit. So I was delighted that the plan was slightly more complex than storming Dyad with a pistol. Thumbs up for using an unwitting Alison to distract Rachel's bulldog Daniel and for Sarah impersonating Cosima. (Incidentally, my mother was right about proper posture; Sarah looks much shorter than Cosima, even when mimicking her hair.)
That plan also gave us this moment:
Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. You're always kissing your fellow clones' significant others.
Delphine is miffed that it's Sarah, not Cosima, who is attending this Dyad shindig, but she doesn't blow Sarah's cover and even tells Sarah where to find Rachel. The ultimate confrontation between Sarah and Rachel is less interesting in itself than for what it tells us: 1) The Dyad doesn't have Siobhan and Kira, 2) Rachel either has no martial training or chooses not to reveal it, and 3) Paul is willing to risk his position with the Dyad to help Sarah, at least for the time being. However, Paul is still working for Dyad, and with Cosima and Alison on the sidelines, Sarah needs a new ally.
So finally, Art learns the truth. He figured plenty out on his own—that Beth killed Maggie Chen because Maggie Chen was a Prolethian, that the Prolethians may have Kira. "Helena's people," Sarah whispers. Art tilts his head and says, "Why don't we start with that?"
Actually, why don't we end with that? A pair of boots dragging on the hospital floor and that screeching musical cue and we know Helena isn't dead. That bullet to the heart? Merely a flesh wound. Helena is basically Wolverine.
That's why Helena's return is such a big deal. Sure, we love her as a character, but this shows just how big the healing abilities that Helena and Kira have exhibited in the past go. Helena took a bullet to the heart and walked herself into the hospital. The Dyad isn't just about giving people silver eyes and funny little tails. They are unlocking the secret of superhuman healing. That's why the Dyad has gone to such lengths to monitor and control the clones—and why it is so dangerous to Sarah and Helena. I wonder if any other clones share that super-healing (or any other superhuman powers like, perhaps, Kira's intuition) or if Project Leda is a sub-experiment unique to our punk and our angry angel. Whatever the answer, Orphan Black has just taken another step up the ladder of scifi intrigue and we're in for another season.
A couple more thoughts:
-I'm very curious to see how things progress with Leekie this season. On the one hand, he feels very god-like about his work with the clones, but I thought I detected a touch of almost paternal concern when he was talking to Rachel about Sarah and Kira. Then again, he referred to them each as a "biological goldmine," which is less than fatherly. There's also a kind of intimacy in his relationship with Rachel, even if they disagree about her strate
-Our clones are a bit less discreet this episode. Not only does Art finally learn Sarah's secret, but now Ramon knows there are two doppelgängers of Alison running around.
-Intellectual property laws are a teensy bit different in the world of Orphan Black thanks to the Dyad's lobbying. You have no idea how much of an ex-law student rabbit hole I went down while trying to figure out whether having clones walking around would be considered a public use. I don't know anything about Canadian intellectual property, but there is a weirdly relevant US Supreme Court case: City of Elizabeth v. American Nicholson Pavement Co.
-So do the Prolethians really have Kira? And why is someone taking her picture? Other than to creep us out, that is.